Dark Horse

Poster for Dark Horse

A story of dreams, determination, and class consciousness set in the world of horse racing, this inspirational documentary from director Louise Osmond (Deep Water) follows a group of friends and neighbours in a small Welsh town who find themselves breaking social barriers by competing against some of the wealthiest racehorse owners in the UK.

In the beleaguered former coal town of Cefn Fforest, South Wales, a middle-aged barmaid named Jan Vokes rallies a syndicate of friends to pool their £10 per week towards breeding, raising, and training a racehorse they call Dream Alliance. Unexpectedly, Dream Alliance shows great promise, and the Welsh townsfolk are soon competing against the sport’s elite. Though their gamble is the furthest thing from a sure bet, and requires years of perseverance through a multitude of factors outside of the stakeholders’ control, for the team behind Dream Alliance it is not all about money: in the words of one backer, “Dream took us to places you couldn’t even imagine.”

Osmond elicits warm and funny interviews from the participants, particularly the plucky Vokes, who fondly recalls how she first pulled her underdog syndicate together back in 2000. Illustrating the team’s anecdotes through carefully chosen archival footage and artful re-enactments—with cinematographer Benjamin Kracun capturing the horses so beautifully you will want to reach out and touch them—this remarkable true story about a long shot is a sure winner.

“While the underdog element of this tale is emotionally gratifying, it’s the humanity on unadorned display here that will move you beyond words.” (Steve Davis, Austin Chronicle)

“Veteran documentary-maker Louise Osmond directs with flair. She gives us just enough of the history of Blackwood to show what Dream Alliance means to the place, and she gets us inside the horse’s head.” (Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte Observer)

“It’s a true winner and a genuine crowdpleaser, a human story told well through one incredible animal.” (Kate Erbland, indieWIRE)